Much like their renovated home, both of Montclair State University’s soccer teams look refreshed and excited to start the 2018 season.
During their season, the men’s and women’s soccer teams both had to play in a stadium that was under construction. The reason for the construction was to add more seats to the stadium in preparation for the next New York Red Bulls II season.
With MSU Soccer Stadium finally complete, the Montclair State men’s and women’s soccer teams can look forward to the season ahead.
Both soccer teams, prior to the start of the season, were ranked within the top three in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Preseason Coaches Poll. The men’s team was selected second overall in the conference behind rival Rowan University. The rival team was the regular season champion last year. The women’s team ranked third overall in the Preseason Coaches Poll behind The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). TCNJ was last year’s conference champions and Final Four participant along with Rowan University.
The women’s team also has a league-high five NJAC all-conference players from their NJAC runner-up squad coming back this season. Senior back Ashley Koester, junior forward Emily Beenders, senior forward Michaela Knoblock, junior back Maddy McLelland and sophomore midfielder Catherine Carnevale all return to the team.
Going into their seasons, both teams played away for their first matches. The men’s team went to Oneonta, New York, to play the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta on Aug. 31. In a game that would need two overtime periods, both teams could not break the 1-1 tie that brought them there, ending the game in a draw. Junior forward Jose Huerta was awarded a penalty shot in the 53rd minute, which he converted. SUNY Oneonta scored three minutes later with a ball going past senior goalkeeper Mike Saalfrank, who made 11 total saves in the game.
The men’s soccer team came back to MSU Soccer Park for the home opener against the College of New Rochelle and Brooklyn College on Sept. 2 and 3 respectively. In each of these games, Montclair State decimated both teams with an 8-0 score. Huerta, against the College of New Rochelle, only needed 14 seconds to score the first of Montclair State’s seven first half goals. Sophomore forward Griffin Bacon scored twice in the span of seven minutes to close out the first half scoring. In the Brooklyn College match, sophomore forward Nixon Soglo along with Huerta, scored twice in the first half.
The women’s soccer team began their season at the Haverford Kickoff Classic on Sept. 1 when they played against St. John Fisher College. Knoblock opened the game with her first goal of the season at the 15-minute mark in the first half. Sophomore defender Olivia Prusakowski scored just before the end of the game to put Montclair State in line to win 2-0.
On Sept. 2, the women’s team went to penalty kicks against Arcadia University. Arcadia scored 10 minutes into the first half on a ball that went by freshman goalkeeper Lindsay Freewalt, who made two saves in the game. Beenders tied the game with a strike from 20 yards out in the second half. Freshman forward Madison Martino scored the decisive goal in penalty kicks to win the Haverford Classic Championship.
The men’s team, now 2-0-1, plays Hunter College on Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m., and Messiah College on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. The women’s team, now 1-0-1, opens play at MSU Soccer Stadium against SUNY New Paltz on Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 8 p.m., then plays Frostburg State University on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. Each team will not play any NJAC opponents until Sept. 15 when they each play Rutgers-Camden.